Saturday, October 16, 2010

Strikes, Epiphanies, and the "No-'Poo" Movement

So... I'll let the cat out of the bag... I've been pretty darn homesick lately. I was told to expect a substantial dip in my mood about a month into my time here, and sure enough, it happened. I got really sullen and mope-y and was pretty antisocial for about a week, spending a lot of time in my room wishing I was anywhere but here. And then last night I had an epiphany of sorts. I thought, "Sara, you are here for the next 6 months whether you like it or not, and you can either turn that into the world's longest pity party, and be miserable for every one of the next 180 days, OR you can make the most of this wonderful opportunity you've been given, learn to speak kick-ass French, make some awesome new friends, and immerse yourself in this new and different culture (are you an anthropologist or what?!), and take the few bad days you'll have as they come." I decided to go with option B. Yes, I miss my friends, my family, my dogs. Yes, I miss American comfort and convenience. BUT I have awesome roommates, a great job, and 8 weeks of paid vacation in the next 6 months. What am I moping for?! So I've had a paradigm shift of sorts, and am excited to proceed with this new outlook on my life in France. Hooray!

Speaking of life in France, there are two things France is known for: paperwork and strikes. I wrote about the horrors of paperwork a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't said much about the strikes. Strikes happen every couple of weeks here (mostly stemming from the recent change in the retirement age-- it's been moved back by 2 and a half years), and they range from barely noticeable (What? There's a strike today? I had no idea...) to hoards of people marching through the streets, transportation and businesses shut down, and schools closed for lack of teachers. The latter is what awakened me this morning. I was in a dead sleep (I'd been out celebrating my new-found lease on life last night), and suddenly I hear sirens. Then yelling and chanting, singing, and those super annoying horns they had at the World Cup soccer tournament. I opened my windows, and this is what I saw:
All the way down my street, as far as I could see in either direction. Here is a short video:

Crazy huh?

And lastly, speaking of crazy, I have decided to join the "No-'Poo" movement. That is, I've decided to stop shampooing my hair. I haven't decided to stop washing my hair, mind you, I've just decided to stop shampooing it. Turns out shampoo is actually really bad for your hair, and if you stop using it, your hair becomes much healthier, shinier, and more manageable. You can read all about it here, at Crunchy Betty, my new favorite blog for all things natural and crunchy (to those of you who can appreciate this reference, I may make the transition from "Chapstick" to full-on "Granola" after this, though I refuse to stop shaving my legs). Instead of my usual dandruff shampoo (French Head n Shoulders), I'll be using a mixture of baking soda and water. And instead of my usual conditioner (Pantene Pro-V Classic), I'll be using a mixture of Apple Cider Vinegar and water. I'll be doing this regimen about 3 times a week, to start, and I'm going to try it for a minimum of one month.

So, here is my "before" picture:
To be fair, this pic is a couple of months old, but it gives a good idea of what my hair looks like when it's been freshly 'poo-ed and air-dried. I did the baking soda and ACV wash for the first time last night, but in the flurry of Friday night activity in my house, I didn't get to take an after picture. I'll post one in a week or so when I've got a few washes under my belt. So far so good, though. My hair feels relatively clean, it doesn't smell bad or anything, and it even feels like it has a little more softness and body. I'm excited to see what happens!